One of my greatest strengths is also one of my greatest struggles (why does it always seem to be that way?!).
Focus… I can focus so intently on something but it’s easily caught by something else shiny and drawn deeply into the next idea. From a neuroscience perspective, this is extremely detrimental to my ability to be efficient and effective. I hop from the email that I’m returning, to the text that just jumped up on my iPhone, then the dog brings in a toy to play with which takes me out into the living room where my camera is sitting next to a window, and I start taking pictures… next thing I know, I’m downstairs cooking dinner and nothing really got done (big inhale). The big buzz word in the business and self-help world right now is Focus and there is endless credible research out there that proves that the less we multi-task and the more we have a narrow focus on what is most important, the greater our reward. Books like Scrum teach us that multi-tasking and jumping from one focus to another is just about the least efficient we can be.
My coach Lyn gave me this visual one time… on a blowdryer, there are two attachments that can be added. One is called a diffuser, the other is called a concentrator nozzle. When the diffuser bowl is attached, it directs the heat and the air flow that the dryer is generating to multiple little spots and the air comes out very softly. When the concentrator nozzle is on, it takes all the heat and air flow and directs it into a very small and focused stream. The dryer is not working any harder with either attachment, but when the energy is dispersed into many points, it is diffused and when the energy is directed to a very narrow point, it is concentrated and maximized! This is a great analogy for us… when we are multi tasking, our energy is diffused and when we focus on single point, our energy becomes concentrated and maximized.
I’ve learned a lot of strategies over the years for kicking this habit. First and foremost, you need to get clear on what is truly most important and what has the most return on your investment of time. Once you’ve prioritized your tasks or projects, they need to be broken down into bite size chunks that are also prioritized. My favorite process from here is based on the Scrum concept and it’s basically only taking on a task that can be completed within the time you are allowing for work… if it can’t be completed, it needs to be broken down to a smaller chunk and that chunk is your sole focus until it is 100% complete. Only then do you start a new task (which also needs to be able to be completed before wrapping up your day).
This is an extremely generic overview of the process that I continually struggle to maintain. It’s taken years of working with my coach and refining the processes to fit my work flow, but I can honestly say that I’m massively more effective now (at least when I stick to the formula).
It’s not lost on me that a hiring a professional coach is an investment. I can tell you without a doubt it’s one of the greatest investments you can make and it will pay you back tenfold… hopefully my own clients agree 🙂 If a full time engagement with a professional coach is out of the budget, here are some resources I’d suggest if you need to get your focus game on point.
The next best thing to hiring my coach Lyn Christian is taking one of her online coaching courses… I got to be in the test group for this particular course and it contains everything that she taught me about focus. It’s easy to understand and I don’t think you will find more bang for your buck. Trust me, reading a book and just working it out on your own rarely gets you very far. Lyn was generous enough to offer a nice discount for my friends… follow this link and it will take you to a page that gives you much more info and the opportunity to invest a discounted price! Be Focused
To be fair, I have not read Scrum fully but I’ve definitely been taught a lot of the principles and if you enjoy this type of reading, it would be high on my list.
If you just can’t scrape the cash together for any of it, then at least try the process I mentioned above.
I hope this supports you in gaining some traction on your work as we enter into 2017!
Please comment below with any questions, comments, or suggestions of what has helped you with focus… I love hearing your thoughts.